SEEING RED a film by SU FRIEDRICH. 2005. USA. 27 min. A whirlwind investigation of the color red by a pioneering experimental filmmaker.


New York-based experimental filmmaker Su Friedrich’s Seeing Red came about almost by accident after her partner told her to make a film about the pain she was experiencing while directing an impersonal film about coffee. The free-flowing short explores Friedrich’s mid-life frustrations, the ridiculous hardships of everyday life, and the color red.


Seeing Red consists of direct-to-camera addresses in which only Friedrich’s upper torso is in view, snippets of Bach’s Goldberg Variations performed by Glenn Gould, and a visual montage highlighting red objects such as tulips, hats, cars, and pillows among other things. Together, these alternating—and often overlapping—tracks affix Friedrich and her frustrations with the world around her, which is ever-changing and thus impossible to control.




“In Seeing Red, three elements run parallel, overlap, diverge, lock horns and in various other ways give voice to the notion that a color, a melody, or a person has multiple characteristics that cannot be grasped by, or understood within, a simple framework.” SU FRIEDRICH


Both Seeing Red and Head of a Pin (2004) mark a stylistic inflection point in Friedrich’s career, exhibiting a shift from 16mm film to video. This shift, complemented by her complaints about how she has to teach her students that supposedly “red doesn’t look good on video” during the former short, is indicative of her practice as a filmmaker whose willingness to subvert cinematic principles invariably results in exciting formal breakthroughs.


Su Friedrich was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1954. After attending the University of Chicago and Oberlin College, from which she earned a B.A. in Art and Art History, she began making films. Mixing elements of documentary and experimental filmmaking, Friedrich has created a singular body of work that explores questions of identity, family history, and lesbianism. In 1996, she received the Cal Arts Alpert Award in the Arts, and since then, she has received fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, among other venerable American institutions. Her work has also been the subject of retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Rotterdam International Film Festival, among other renowned settings.


Text written by Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer.